Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lagos to Spend $10 Billion On Rail Projects in 25 Years

The Lagos State government is to spend $10bilion in the next twenty five years to execute its seven rail development projects in the state.

Construction of the first two lines are expected to commence by the middle of this year while bids for the selection of investors are billed to be opened next week.

Indications to this emerged just as the state governor, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), prepares to address a stakeholder's forum in the next two months on the implications of the new rail projects, which is estimated to cost $1.2billlion.

The forum, which is also coming on the heels of the flag-off of construction of the new ten lane Lagos - Badagry Expressway, is intended to address the complaints of those likely to be affected by the demolition exercise on the right of way of the expressway. The demolition is to provide space for the multiple purpose nature of the road, which will include the BRT track, Light rail line and lanes for other vehicles plying the ever busy route.

Managing Director of the Lagos Metropolitan Transport Authority (LAMATA), Dr Dayo Mobereola, who disclosed this in an exclusive interview with Sunday Independent during the week, explained that response from investors to the financing and execution of the project, which would be on a build and operate basis for twenty five years, has been overwhelming. The construction period is estimated for three years.

He disclosed that the state government has moved away from the initial population projection of 25 million in 2015 to 40 million persons considering the impact of the two new rail projects, which is expected to move at least 30,000 passengers per hour and 1.3 million passengers per day.

On the benefits of the rail project, Mobereola said it is meant to address the issue of poverty, as people would spend less on transportation thereby conserving money for other basic needs instead of spending a huge chunk of their income on road transportation with its multiplier effect on standard of living.

Besides, he noted that successive governments have not been able to come to terms with the imperatives of the project because of the lack of political will, adding that the present government in Lagos has demonstrated enough will to tackle once and for all the problems of transportation in the state with the adoption of the strategic plan by the LAMATA.

The rail project tagged Blue and Red Lines would run between Okokomaiko and Iddo, and Ijoko - Iddo respectively. It is expected to kick start the rail development project which forms the major plank of the government's plan for the anticipated mega city status of Lagos.

Speaking further, the LAMATA boss said the rail development project will also form the plank of the government's effort to reduce poverty and create employment while also making life more comfortable to the citizenry as they would spend less time commuting from any part of the state.

To complement the new rail lines he said the state government is planning to extend the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) to nine new routes including the Iyana-Ipaja, Ikotun, Igando roads and the Oshodi, Apapa, Mile 2 to Wharf roads, while existing roads in these areas would be expanded to accommodate the BRT buses which has recorded a huge success in the state since introduction over a year ago.

Mobereola also disclosed that henceforth reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads now going on in various parts of the state have been standardized such that each of the roads would have four main facilities: walkway, street lights, drainage and driveway measuring at least seven and half meters, which is the standard practice for road construction all over the world.

On water transportation, he also disclosed that the state government has involved the private sector in the development of ferry services by providing infrastructure like jetties and approach-roads, as part of the integrated transportation system being evolved for the state in anticipation of its mega-city status.